Healthcare provider back-paid staff more than $4.86 million

Underpayments were caused by payroll issues that were not identified by St John WA when it acquired Apollo Health in 2016.

Healthcare provider Apollo Health Limited has back-paid staff more than $4.86 million, including interest and superannuation, and signed an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) with the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The not-for-profit charitable organisation, owned by St John Ambulance Western Australia Limited (St John WA) since 2016, self-reported to the regulator in November 2021 after discovering underpayments during a self-initiated review.

Apollo Health operates a range of medical centres, trading as St John Health, which provide medical, dental, urgent care, pharmacy, physiotherapy, imaging and diagnostic services across Western Australia.

- Advertisement -

Underpayments were caused by payroll issues that were not identified by St John WA when it acquired Apollo Health in 2016. There were also failures to correctly apply some provisions of the relevant modern awards, and time recording was found to be inadequate or incomplete.

As a result, between July 2013 and July 2021, Apollo Health underpaid 446 current and former employees about $3.8 million, excluding superannuation and interest.

Employees were underpaid their minimum rates, overtime, penalty rates, allowances, annual leave and annual leave loading owed under modern awards, the National Employment Standards and the Fair Work Act.

The company has remediated all underpayments to all employees it could find, with more than $4.86 million, including interest and superannuation, back-paid to 438 current and former employees.

Most back-payments range from $15 to $12,000. The highest backpayment was $139,446.

Before this EU commenced, Apollo Health paid to the FWO the money owed to the remaining eight former employees who are not yet located.

- Advertisement -

Acting Fair Work Ombudsman Kristen Hannah said an EU was appropriate as Apollo Health had cooperated with the FWO’s investigation and demonstrated a strong commitment to rectifying underpayments.

“Under the Enforceable Undertaking, Apollo Health has committed to implementing stringent measures to ensure all of its workers are paid correctly. These measures include commissioning, at its own cost, an independent audit to check its compliance with workplace laws next year,” Ms Hannah said.

“This matter demonstrates how important it is for employers to place a high priority on their workplace obligations, to ensure that their systems provide for full compliance with all entitlements. Shortcomings in Apollo Health’s payroll system and broader compliance were left unchecked, which led to hard-working employees missing out on their money,” Ms Hannah said.

“We expect all employers to invest the time and resources to regularly review whether they are meeting all lawful entitlements and to remedy any issues.”

Underpaid employees, engaged full-time, part-time and casually, worked in medical centres in Armidale, Cannington, Cockburn, Joondalup, and Kambalda. They had health, professional and support service roles and performed healthcare, medical, dental and nursing duties.

The EU also requires Apollo Health to write to all underpaid employees to notify them of the commencement of the EU; publish a notice in a newspaper about its contraventions; and establish a telephone hotline plus a dedicated email for all employees who worked during the relevant period to make enquiries.

Support Our Journalism

Global Indian Diaspora needs fair, non-hyphenated, and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. The Australia Today – with exceptional reporters, columnists, and editors – is doing just that. Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States of America, or India you can take a paid subscription by clicking Patreon. Buy an annual ‘The Australia Today Membership’ to support independent journalism and get special benefits.